I was having a little offline banter with a fave blog friend and in jest she mentioned the megabucks we could make ten years from now counseling kids of bloggers.
It got me thinking about my own childhood and how blissfully unblogworthy it was. There are literally no photos of me under 18 months old. And my birthday parties and first school day photos are so far from the magazine-worthy stuff you see on some (not all) blogs today that I started to wonder who it's all for and if any if it matters to the child. It's like that old adage about the kid who gets an elaborate gift and winds up more enchanted by the box or the wrapping paper.
My childhood wasn't just these happy but unblogworthy moments though. I lost a brother, all my grandparents and my godfather before I hit my teens. We moved house countless times too. And even when we weren't moving my parents took us to open houses always dreaming of bigger, better things. In my childishness I took everything quite literally and was often made a liar by repeating their dreams as soon-to-manifest plans.
It's clear my parents were driven, aspired constantly to greater things and, in fairness to them, achieved many of them. But the effect it had on me as a child was to create this split between the life we had and the one we were aspiring too. I fell prey to their longing in a big way. It made me pretty materialistic, pretty young. I was aware of how big everybody's house was, what car their dad drove and, in my own quiet way, I was competitive about it. And in a stranger way, I identified myself as being different than our neighbours and peers because my parents seemed to want to move away from all that. But that wasn't really a superior feeling, it was an alienating one.
I don't mean to slam my parents. I admire them in so, so many ways. After secondary school, Dad apprenticed in a trade. But he put himself through nightschool and got all his degrees while working and supporting a family. I used to sit on his lap while he studied, the carpet around his armchair littered with books and me no doubt clamoring over them and wreaking havoc to get to him. And Mum held it together after losing a son, with a husband at nightschool and likely two constantly-disoriented daughters. Ireland's economy was the pity party of the EEC at that time too. So, Mum and Dad's daydreams had their use. And heavens knows, there are way worse things in the world than parents who like to daydream.
So, why am I writing about all of this? Well, because that blogger got me thinking about what effect that idealized blogged life might have on kids. And I think it could be similar to the effects my parents' wish for otherness had on me. It left me detached and a little aloof, with an anti-Gestalt mindset, always thinking in terms of befores and afters. Of course, I was happily oblivious to that as a child, it was just like playing dress-up. But it wasn't reality and didn't give me a truly strong sense of being-in-the-world.
On the flip side, it may account for why I'm crazily driven, like them, though perhaps even more determined to do than daydream. But it didn't teach me as much to be happy with the reality of what I have now. I latched onto mental snapshots of perfect moments that I wanted to live in instead of enjoying the real photographs of plain old Jane. But you know what I've realized? Plain old Jane, is way more interesting than that stylized character I had in my head.
Now, I don't know squat about raising children. It seems a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario. But I do think a lot about authenticity in content creation; about how we portray our lives in blogs and the effects it has on readers, family, friends. And it's all well and good and true to say that there's always something aspirational about blogging. But I wonder about aspiration and its usefulness. And I wonder about the aspired-to life versus the good life in the eudaimonic sense.
And I guess that's what I've been thinking about. That and why Mum couldn't focus a camera for the life of her.